A teacher in the Franklin Special School District and a counselor from a school in Williamson County Schools are among just 30 educators across the state who have been invited to participate in the 2020-21 Tennessee Educator Fellowship and its State Collaborative on Reforming Education program.
Laura Lavery, a Spanish teacher at Poplar Grove Middle School, earned the fellowship through a competitive application process and will be part of a program that gives educators the opportunity to learn about education policy and turn that knowledge into advocacy that positively impacts student achievement and educator effectiveness.
Maribel Gadams, a counselor at Grassland Middle School, applied for the fellowship to learn more about state education policies and how they impact students and teachers.
The Tennessee Educator Fellowship is a yearlong State Collaborative on Reforming Educators (SCORE) program that gives teachers, school counselors, interventionists and librarians an opportunity to learn about education policy and use that knowledge to help their students. During the program, cohorts will meet four times throughout the year to learn about and advocate for a student-focused education policy.
Poplar Grove Middle Principal Chris Treadway believes Lavery’s strengths in technology and student relationships will benefit the group’s overall mission.
“Mrs. Lavery will be an excellent addition to the Educator Fellowship,” he said. “Her focus on instructional technology within the framework of her foreign language classroom is extensive, as well as her emphasis on the importance of social emotional learning within the school environment.”
Lavery, who has been teaching for eight years, said she is “so very excited to be selected as a SCORE Educator Fellow.”
“This opportunity will allow me to represent my Poplar Grove students and families, learn about education policy in our state and engage with policymakers on student-focused initiatives,” she said.
As a cohort, Gadams will be a liaison between her fellow teachers, the community, policymakers and advocates.
“I am extremely thrilled about this opportunity and looking forward to meeting with other educators throughout the state and helping to make an impact on education,” Gadams said.
Cohorts in the program may speak at public events, serve on state-level policy committees, engage with policymakers and write for state and national publications.
“Our goal is to go back into our communities to elevate our voices to support and advance student-focused education policy,” Gadams said.
The fellows chosen for this cohort come from elementary, middle and high schools in 23 districts across the state in urban, suburban and rural settings.
SCORE President and CEO David Mansouri said that the collaboration of educators drives conversations that lead to action.
“Through their impact on policy discussions, fellows keep the best interests of students at the forefront of decisions on the local and state level,” Mansouri said.